Felix Baumgartner Eyed by Marketers but Long-Term Appeal Debated


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Jay Nemeth/Red Bull Content Pool(NEW YORK) — If anything can be gleaned from Felix Baumgartner’s skydive from space besides the knowledge that a human can break the sound barrier without a machine, it’s that risk-takers, when successful, are handsomely rewarded.

Red Bull or Baumgartner aren’t disclosing the financial details of their working relationship, which began in 1988, when he began performing skydiving exhibitions for the beverage company, which was only a year old at the time.

“I would certainly expect that he was extremely well compensated for taking a personal risk and devoting all this time,” said Jim Andrews, senior vice president of sponsorship consultancy, IEG.

While Red Bull has invested in typical advertising platforms like television commercials, the Austrian company’s bread and butter these days is sponsoring sporting-related events and teams. They even own the Major League Soccer Team, the New York Red Bulls. Red Bull also hosts an annual event the company created called, Flugtag, or Flying Day, in which people compete in homemade flying machines.

Red Bull did not immediately return a request for comment.

To say this recent feat was expensive is an understatement.

Red Bull has reportedly paid unspecified money to aerospace companies in Southern California, likely in the millions of dollars, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The aborted mission last Tuesday, Baumgartner’s first attempt that was canceled due to heavy winds, included money spent on a balloon worth several hundred thousand dollars. Even the helium is said to have cost $65,000.

Andrews said Sunday’s stunt was in line with the way they’ve marketed their brands for 25 years; that is, “doing things extremely newsworthy or very extreme.”

“It was a very smart move,” he said.

And it will no doubt make a superstar out of Baumgartner, who hails from Salzburg, Austria, Red Bull’s global headquarters.

Andrews said companies or organizations are probably lining up to work with him or invite him to speaking engagements.

“Everybody’s going to want him – especially in the short term,” Andrews said, saying Baumgartner would be a good fit for an automobile brand, financial services or telecom company.

Natalie Zmuda, reporter with Ad Age, was more hesitant to say that Baumgartner would be an instant commercial success.

Before Sunday, “Felix was not a household name,” she said.

First, while Baumgartner may be recognized in extreme sports, he does not have as wide appeal as an Olympian.

“Marketers working with him would have to think about their target audience,” she said.

Baumgartner previously had been a part of the Austrian army, boxed and repaired motorbikes.

As an Austrian, he would likely be more appealing to European marketers, rather than U.S. companies. However, Zmuda concedes, the fact that the stunt took place in the U.S. helps with the latter.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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